Cavs Cruise Past Pistons for Sweep

  • April 26, 2009, 5:20 PM

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- LeBron James earned a break.

James had 36 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 99-78 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, sweeping the Eastern Conference first-round series.

The top-seeded Cavs might be off for more than a week, waiting for Atlanta or Miami to advance.

Detroit, meanwhile, will have its longest offseason since 2001 and about $20 million in salary-cap space to rebuild a once-proud team.

James made his first four shots - including a windmill dunk. He helped put the Pistons away for good with a 16-6 run midway through the third quarter.

Mo Williams scored a career playoff-high 24 for the Cavs.

Detroit's Antonio McDyess had 26 points, tying a career playoff high.

James has led the Cavs into the playoffs the past four years, winning at least one series each time.

Cleveland lost to the Pistons in the second round of the 2006 playoffs, got past them the next year in the conference finals en route to its first NBA finals appearance and was eliminated by the eventual champion Boston Celtics in the second round last year.

The Cavs will face the winner of the Atlanta-Miami series, which the Heat lead 2-1 heading into Monday night's game at home. The best-of-seven series could end as late as Sunday, May 3.

Detroit was in the conference finals the past six years, the longest such streak in the NBA since the Los Angeles Lakers' run two decades ago. The Pistons, the only Eastern Conference team in the playoffs for an eighth straight year, had advanced in each of the previous seven postseasons.

James worked up a sweat 2 hours before tipoff, shooting 3-pointers from every angle, driving against imaginary defenders for dunks and pullups and leaning against the air to practice low-post moves.

When James joined his teammates for pregame warmups, Cleveland fans seemed to outnumber Detroit supporters and he waved his arms in the air to encourage them to be even louder.

''It's great to be in Cleveland,'' Cavs radio broadcaster Joe Tait said.

James gave them plenty to cheer about early, especially on a spectacular dunk, and ignited more ''M-V-P!'' chants by a slam that put the Cavs ahead 86-69.

In the final minutes of the game, ''Let's Go Cavs!'' chants could easily be heard as frustrated fans of the Pistons exited.

Rasheed Wallace was scoreless, missing all seven of his shots, in what was probably his last game with the Pistons unless they make a stunning move and re-sign him as a free agent.

Wallace's and Allen Iverson's contracts will come off the Pistons' books this summer, making them potentially a major player in the offseason.

Iverson was acquired from the Denver Nuggets for Chauncey Billups early in the season and the short-term impact was awful for the Pistons, transforming them from a possible contender to a definitive disaster.

In their final game, reserve Will Bynum scored a career playoff-high 22 and Rodney Stuckey had 14 points.

Delonte West scored 12 for the Cavs.

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